Having sharpened his skill and style with the release of several praised independent projects, MidaZ The Beast arrives at the point of his debut album already a full fledged artist. "AU: Another Universe" serves up an intensive hour that highlights everything that fans have come to expect from the man while also working as a very solid introduction for newcomers. While there's no shortage of trailblazing beats here, the number one thing that stands out throughout is the lyricism presented on these 15 tracks. With only a few songs set aside for sparring with guest features, Midaz succesfully takes the reigns and guides the listeners through his world. Many of the tracks are filled with passionate rhymes about the hip-hop culture and his place in the top echelon of it, with fierce punchlines that almost always connects, constantly set over slamming tracks from long-time collaborators IMAKEMADBEATS and TzariZM. The album also sees welcome collaborations with boom bap renaissance master Marco Polo and Oh No who both bring their unique flavor to the project.
The best tracks, however, comes when Midaz looks within the darker places of himself for inspiration, something we have heard before but maybe not to this extent. "Worthless" might be the most honest rap song released all year, where Midaz chooses to rhyme about his fails and self-made losses over haunting piano keys and a stretched vocal loop beautifully concocted by TzariZM. In a similair vein the album closes out with two of the strongest tracks of the entire set, "Coma" and "Walking Away". The former is a dark concept track expanding on the theme of being at the brink of suicide and looking back at everything that drove you to this point - brilliantly executed over an IMAKEMADBEATS production that leaves out the drums to have Midaz rhyme over soft melodies created from harps and a lot of ambient sounds (including the chilling beeps from a respirator). If there's one thing that left me slightly disappointed on my first listens it is that we didn't get to hear a few more of these introspective, self searching tracks, which is mainly a reflection on how superbly Midaz crafts these joints.
Save for a couple of tracks that never fully connect ("Jane Doe", "Bad Things"), and a few skits that overstays their welcome, there's a whole lot to love on "AU: Another Universe". From the introspective tracks mentioned above to sure shot bangers like "Champion of the Block", "Fire" and "Goldberg", and the politically charged "Seeing is Believing" with Blueprint and Sabac Red, there's not a single cut placed on here simply to sell units or draw radio attention. It's safe to say that Midaz and his production team has managed to create one of the strongest debuts in quite some time with "AU". Stream the entire album via DJBooth below and hear for yourself, or head over to UGHH and order the CD.